Students of diverse backgrounds and disciplines have come through our doors. They dedicate months of time and effort into preparing for and applying to internationally and nationally competitive fellowships. Some have received awards. Some have not but learned about themselves through the process. They used the skills, knowledge and drive gained through this experience to get accepted into graduate school, Peace Corps, and other opportunities that have enriched their lives. Here are a few of their stories.
On April 4, 2017, at about 10:30 a.m., I tricked Brendan Marsh, about to graduate from Mizzou with degrees in physics and math, into entering the Chancellor’s suite—where he was introduced as the university’s fourth Mark Twain Fellow. Brendan thought I had taken him to Jesse Hall to see a bust of Isaac Newton, fitting for an undergraduate with his majors, but I had lied (a harmless white lie, to be sure). Rather than finding a bust of Newton on a bookshelf, Brendan opened the door to see the Chancellor’s staff seated around a conference table.
Ryan Branson, a Fulbright U.S. Student Program applicant and Mark Twain Fellowship finalist, believes students reap many benefits from pursuing a fellowship, regardless of the outcome. Through applying for multiple fellowships, Ryan spread awareness about male eating disorders. He says this accomplishment defines his success.
Xavier Billingsley graduated from the MU College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources in 2013. Xavier’s accomplished undergraduate career, including his role as Missouri Students Association President, qualified him to receive the prestigious Charles Rangel International Fellowship. Now he studies at Cornell University to prepare for a career in foreign affairs.
One of the greatest privileges of fellowship advising is seeing young alumni pursue, achieve, and continue to refine the goals they set for themselves as graduating students. Becca Taylor, a 2013 MU graduate, is an example of an alumna who has been unwavering in commitment to advancing and protecting human rights within immigrant populations since we first came to know her in the Fellowships Office.
The Fulbright program awarded Paul Flo a year-long English Teaching Assistantship in Malaysia because of his experience working for Teach for America in Hawaii, his education and extracurricular activities at Mizzou, and his drive to teach in the U.S. and abroad in the future.
Upon completing his BA at Mizzou in December 2011, Derek Frankhouser moved to Braunschweig, Germany to conduct research in 2013-2014 as the recipient of a Fulbright Study/Research Grant.
Brian Pellot served as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar in Dubai, received the William Jefferson Clinton Scholarship at the American University in Dubai, and was awarded a Critical Language Scholarship to study Arabic in Morocco and Jordan. He sought both the Marshall and Rhodes scholarships; he was named a finalist for the Rhodes and selected to receive the Marshall to complete a master’s degree at St. Antony’s College, Oxford.
After applying to Rhodes, Mitchell, and Marshall, MU alumnus Marc Canellas used the understanding gained through the process in many other areas of his professional life, including a graduate program in Engineering with full funding through the National Science Foundation.
Founder of Dream Outside the Box nonprofit, Kam Phillips was active on the Mizzou campus and was selected for the prestigious Truman Scholarship in 2011. She also attended the Truman Scholarship 2012 Summer Institute in Washington, D.C.
The process of pursuing a fellowship can be daunting. While applying for the Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships, Jaclyn Herr says she gained an “even-worse-than-before addiction to coffee and maybe some minor hair loss.” Through her sincere efforts, she gained greater self-confidence and a clearer idea of what drives her academically. Jaclyn has used these experiences to apply to doctoral programs and is now at Boston University in Classical Studies.